Shaq/Kobe Scores Huge Ratings For ABC, Bravo Picks New 'Poker' Celebrities, Scott Baio Returns To TV


Saturday’s (Dec. 25) exhaustively hyped Christmas Day battle between the Lakers and Heat scored the NBA’s best regular season ratings in six years. According to media reports, the overnight ratings for ABC’s basketball telecast were a robust 8.0.
The match-up between Los Angeles and Miami marked Shaquille O’Neal’s first game against the team he helped lead to three championships. It also marked the first face-off between O’Neal and former teammate Kobe Bryant. The two superstars had an acrimonious relationship when they played for the same squad and have had a bitter war-of-words going through the media since the off-season when O’Neal was traded to Miami for three players and Bryant resigned with the Lakers for $136.4 million.

The game itself led up to much of its billing, particularly when the two stars met at center court but didn’t look at each other. O’Neal blocked Bryant’s very first shot, but the younger guard got the best of the head-to-heat match-up, scoring a season-high 42 points, while the burly center fouled out in the fourth quarter having scored 24 points. However, basketball is a team game and even without O’Neal’s services down the stretch, Miami pulled ahead in overtime and won 104-102.

The 8.0 rating was the best for an NBA regular season game since the Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, fought the Lakers in February of 1998.

For the fifth time, celebrities are ready to go all in for charity, as Bravo prepares to launch its fifth season of the popular “Celebrity Poker Showdown.”

The new season of “CPS” will premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 5 with a showdown featuring two “Everybody Loves Raymond” stars (Brad Garrett and Ray Romano), Catherine O’Hara, Sara Rue and World Series star Curt Schilling. No word on whether or not Schillings recently repaired ankle will have to be resutured for the night’s round of No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

After moving to Sunday in its last season, “CPS” will air on Tuesdays with its familiar format. Each of five episodes features a showdown between an eclectic group of stars, with the winner from each table moving onto a final game and the chance to donate the lion’s share of the $250,000 prize pool to the charity of their choice.

This season’s mixture of new and veteran players features Jason Alexander, Nicolas Gonzales, Allison Janney, Chris Kattan and Mary McCormack (all in Week Two), Lacey Chabert, Bonnie Hunt, J.K. Simmons, Robert Wagner and Scott Wolf (in Week Three), Brandi Chastain, Camryn Manheim, Colin Quinn, Tom Verica and Kevin Weisman (in Week Four) and Heather Graham, Jesse Metcalfe, Andrea Parker, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Fred Willard.

Dave Foley will be back as host, joined by expert poker commentator Phil Gordon.

Previous winners have included Nicole Sullivan (“King of Queens”), Maura Tierney (“ER”), Seth Myers (“Saturday Night Live”) and Mekhi Phifer (“ER”).

This season’s featured sponsor will be Cadillac, taking over for NetZero.

Television legend Scott Baio, who, remarkably, has never even been nominated for an Emmy, is ready to make his return to the small screen.

Probably hoping that “SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2” won’t have to be his most recent credit for long, Baio is circling an untitled NBC comedy about a fourtysomething guy (yes, Scott Baio is 43), who moves in with a twentysomething friend and turns his life around.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jace Richdale (“The Simpsons”) is on board to executive produce the pilot, which has been given a script commitment at NBC. Then again, a script commitment to Baio doesn’t mean much. His last series, the comedy “Rewind,” got a series order from FOX, but next aired.

Depending on your age, Baio is probably best known as Charles “Chachi” Arcola from “Happy Days” and its seminal spin-off “Joanie Loves Chachi” or as the Charles who was in charge in the comedy “Charles in Charge.” He was also Dr. Jack Stewart on several seasons of “Diagnosis Murder” and the title character in the 1976 classic “Bugsy Malone.”

Credit: Zap2It

Murtz Jaffer is the world's foremost reality television expert and was the host of Reality Obsessed which aired on the TVTropolis and Global Reality Channels in Canada. He has professional writing experience at the Toronto Sun, National Post, TV Guide Canada, and was a former producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada. He was also the editor at